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A Fine Lewis & Clark era Map of North America

Fine large format map of North America, reporting on some of the discoveries of Lewis & Clark, published by Thomson in 1814.

West of the Rocky Mountains, the map shows pre-Lewis & Clark details, most notably the river running from Fort Vancouver northward into New Georgia and New Hanover, a strange pre-cursor to the course of the Columbia and Fraser Rivers. The fine details in western Canada are a reflection of the Hudson Bay Company and other fur trading networks which were then well known in the British Isles.

To the east, a prominent note identifies the course of the Upper Missouri River, based upon sketches coming from early reports back from William Clark in the outbound portion of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, but pre-dating the release of the final expedition information which would occur in the official report of the expedition, published for the first time in Philadelphia in 1814.

The missions in California are named. The Transmississippi West is very primative, although the region east of the Canadian Rockies is shown in great detail. The activities and discoveries along the coast of Alaska are in evidence, although north of the Behring Straits there is still a very incomplete understanding of the coastline. A number of Canadian and Western US Indian Tribes are named.

The map focuses on locating numerous forts, including many forts east of the Mississippi. Lots of place names in Texas and the southwest. An interesting path commencing at the confluence of the Oisconsin and Mississippi Rivers and running east nearly to the Missouri is shown.

An excellent large format map of the North America during the era immediately before the exploration of the Transmississippi West began in earnest.

Wheat 319.
John Thomson Biography

John Thomson (1777-ca. 1840) was a commercial map publisher active in Edinburgh. He specialized in guide books and atlases and is primarily known for his Atlas of Scotland (1832) and the New General Atlas, first published in 1817 and reissued for the next quarter century. The New General Atlas was a commercial success—it was also published in Dublin and London—and it compiled existing geographic knowledge in compelling ways for a wide audience.

His Atlas of Scotland introduced new geographic information and was the first large-scale atlas of Scotland to be organized by county. It provided the most-accurate view of Scotland available before the Clearances. Work on the atlas began in 1820 and led to Thomson’s bankruptcy in 1830 due to the high costs of gathering the latest surveys and reviewing the required materials. Despite the publication of the atlas, Thomson declared bankruptcy again in 1835.